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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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May 25, 2006

What is the Future of the Book?

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

A friend pointed me to The Institute for the Future of the Book because he's currently participating in the discussion around the creation of GAM3R 7H30RY by McKenzie Wark. I've just begun to explore both the site and the book project, and I'm obviously coming late to the process.

It appears to be an ongoing publication by Wark of his book, which happens to be on the subject of computer games and their potential for use as allegories to things in society. Unlike other versions of "publish online" that I've seen, this is much closer to "publish the manuscript online" and solicit readership, feedback, and commentary.

Writers, particularly new ones, are often encouraged and bouyed up by physical writer's groups, in which people co-critique works in progress. Some writing workshops/groups also include lectures from established authors and related well-known people in publishing. In SF/Fantasy, the Clarion SF&F Writers' Workshop is well known and has graduated a number of folk who have gone on to great success.

So, can this model work online? I'm dubious. One of the things that makes a good writers' group, and that makes Clarion the success it has been, is a rigorous screening process. You get into these things not just by having good intentions or a lot to say but by having valuable experience and insights to contribute. It's unclear to me how one filters the mass audience of the Web into something resembling useful wisdom.

On the other hand, perhaps a workshop is the wrong model. Maybe this is more like the writing of a massive wikipedia entry on games and game theory. One person writes most of it, but the audence participates in the edit and refinement process? It seems like that model might produce something more useful.

Anyway, check it out.

Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Use


COMMENTS

1. Gar Lipow on May 28, 2006 5:44 PM writes...

One problem I see with this in context of the current publishing industry is that publishers are very hinky about "previously published works". Putting it in a free version on the web can kill the chances for a first time writer to see the work commerically published. Not always, but very likely.

Permalink to Comment

2. Neo on May 29, 2006 12:09 PM writes...

The "current publishing industry" is a dinosaur that won't last out the '20s. In the long run it's irrelevant.

P.S. "Remember Me?" is still not working.

Permalink to Comment

3. Spudnix on May 29, 2006 12:16 PM writes...

What is the objective of a starting writer? If it is to get stinkin' rich, they've picked the wrong career. If it's for love of writing and wanting to be read by, and maybe appreciated by, many, then wide distribution is more important than commercial opportunity.

Anyway, commercial writing with royalties is meant to enable a writer that becomes successful to go full-time and quit their day job, and the money won't really come rolling in unless they hit it pretty big. The first few things one writes are not likely to make much money or even to be accepted for commercial publication at all. For the "rejects" getting feedback is more important than money or distribution, and for the next few, if one wants money from writing, one must prove oneself capable of greatness. Those may as well be distributed widely for free. Once one is a provably accomplished writer, then it's possible to get a publisher to negotiate with you for serious royalties or even an advance; until then all you'd get is extra spending money, if that. Of course, if you want to commercially exploit the earlier works then, the publisher is unlikely to say no to issuing say a bound volume of so-and-so's more popular early Internet works.

Permalink to Comment

4. McKenzie Wark on June 18, 2006 9:20 PM writes...

It is not like a writing group or like a blog. It is it's own thing. That was and is the whole idea.

Permalink to Comment

5. drwex on June 20, 2006 2:37 PM writes...

Sorry but I reject this. Nothing is that sui generis - we always reason about things by comparison to things we already know. It may not be a lot like a blog or writing group, but it does have resemblances to both.

Permalink to Comment

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